Student committee voices complaints about Art Dept

By Keith Allen

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Art students are forming a new committee to alert the Art Department's faculty that professors miss class, the Art Building needs a new ventilation system, and student advising needs to be improved.

The Committee for the Advancement of Art Students and Staff was conceived by beginning painting and drawing senior Kristen Decker and art history and art studio senior Lilli Riley to create an avenue for students to communicate with art faculty and fellow students.

"This is a terrific idea," said Andrew Polk, interim head of the UA's Art Department, who attended a meeting with students on Friday.

Polk said he is willing to meet with the group's representatives on a regular basis to work with their concerns.

Students attending the meeting voiced concerns about professors not showing up to class, poor advising, disposal of toxic waste, and the ventilation system in the Art Building.

"Some of the problems (the students) have are ones that I don't always know about," Polk said.

Polk said he recognizes the advising in the Department of Art is a "mess on our hands," and that next summer, the Art Building is scheduled to be fitted with a new ventilation system.

"To me, I really wish someone had done it five years ago," Riley said of starting the committee. She said that she has shown the committee's concerns to graduates of the department and discovered they have been brought up before.

"It seemed like going into this department that there was a lack of knowing how to voice a complaint effectively," Decker said.

Decker said some of the committee's goals are to promote a safer, cleaner environment, provide an activity forum, sponsor lectures from visiting artists and promote an environment where students have a voice.

"If we are going to make our own art careers productive and successful, we need to have an art community," Decker said. She said with an art community, students can discuss art, which produces productive and successful artists.

The committee has filled out all the paperwork to be recognized by the Associated Students of the University of Arizona, and will turn it in within the week, Decker said.

The committee has already selected two students as interim representatives at the undergraduate advisory forum, made up of five to seven art faculty members, Decker said.

"This is a direct line to the student committee," said Dwaine Greer, a professor in the Art Department, who also attended the meeting. "We are committed to making it as open a forum as possible."

"I think when we eventually get people involved, we will have a voice to get the department student-friendly," Decker said. She said the department can feel that the faculty are not student-friendly and that the students are not faculty-friendly.

"We need to get rid of all the misconceptions," Decker said. "The key is communication."

"They (the students) are really into it," Riley said. "They are saying, 'Wow, maybe this is a way to get something done.'"

About 25 students and faculty attended Friday's meeting.

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